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African culture and business markets: implications for marketing practices

William K. Darley (Department of Business Studies, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Millersville University, Millersville, Pennsylvania, USA)
Charles Blankson (Department of Marketing and Logistics, College of Business Administration, University of North Texas, Denton, Texas, USA)

Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing

ISSN: 0885-8624

Article publication date: 1 August 2008




This paper seeks to focus on the key underpinnings of African culture and its implications for business marketing practices.


Using Kluckholn and Strodtbeck's and Hofstede's conceptualizations as a backdrop, the paper provides a synoptic view and modal focus of African culture. Covered are the culture's implications for organizational behavior, buyer‐seller interactions, collaborative partnerships and negotiations.


The study shows that African culture promotes the principle of reciprocity. In buyer‐seller interaction, respect for the elderly is an important guiding principle. In collaborative partnerships, preference is for the terms of the collaboration to be reached through consultation and consensus. The foreign company needs to pay attention to the softer issues surrounding the relationship and to send a high‐ranking employee‐team. In negotiations, long‐term relationship and win‐win outcome are preferred and encouraged.

Research limitations/implications

The paper uses the term “African culture” as an overarching concept. However, the fact that to propose a monolithic African culture may be inaccurate because of strong national differences is acknowledged. Nonetheless, there are some cultural dimensions common to the sub‐region, including a hierarchical social structure, the importance of kinship, the primacy of the group, the belief in ancestry and existence of a supreme being, and the value attached to the extended family.


The study provides useful and candid insights into African culture that international marketers may take into consideration when dealing with African business markets. It also responds to Nakata and Sivakumar's suggestions for marketing researchers to deepen the study of culture and its implications for marketing in view of the increasing globalization of markets. It is to be hoped that this study leads to further discussion and research on African culture and its implications for marketing.



Darley, W.K. and Blankson, C. (2008), "African culture and business markets: implications for marketing practices", Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, Vol. 23 No. 6, pp. 374-383.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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